House Bill No. 128

Introduced By soft

By Request of the Department of Public Health and Human Services

A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act generally revising the law regulating day care; clarifying definitions and immunization exemptions; allowing health care training and inspections in all types of day-care facilities; increasing the amount that a health inspector may charge for inspection of a day-care facility; permitting enforcement of licensing requirements in justice's, municipal, or city court; amending sections 52-2-702, 52-2-703, 52-2-713, 52-2-721, 52-2-735, and 52-2-741, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date."

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Section 52-2-702, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-702.   Purpose -- findings. (1) The purpose of this part is to assure ensure that children requiring, while in day care, be provided such the food, shelter, security and safety, guidance and direction, nurture and comfort, and learning experiences commensurate to their ages and capabilities so as to safeguard the growth and development of such the children, thereby facilitating their proper physical and emotional maturation.

(2)  (a) The legislature finds that the number of children living in homes where both parents work or in homes with a single parent who works has increased dramatically over the last decade.

(b)  The legislature finds that the availability of quality child care is critical to the self-sufficiency and independence of Montana families, including the growing number of mothers who have young children and who work out of economic necessity.

(c)  The legislature further finds that the number of quality child-care arrangements falls far short of the number required for children in need of child-care services.

(d)  It is the intent of the legislature that the state promote day care for the purposes of:

(i)  improving the quality of, and coordination among, child-care programs and providing additional resources for child-care services;

(ii) promoting the availability and diversity of quality child-care services for all children and families that need such services;

(iii) providing assistance, within the confines of available funding, to families whose financial resources are not sufficient to enable them to pay the full costs of necessary child-care services;

(iv) ensuring that parents are not forced by lack of available programs or financial resources to place a child in an unsafe or unhealthy child-care facility; and

(v)  assisting people in finding and maintaining employment by lessening the stress related to the lack of adequate child care."

Section 2.  Section 52-2-703, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-703.   Definitions. In this part, the following definitions apply:

(1)  "Child" means a person under 13 years of age or a person with special needs, as defined by the department, who is under 18 years of age or is 18 years of age and a full-time student expected to complete an educational program by 19 years of age.

(2)  "Day care" or "child care" means care for children provided by an adult, other than a parent of the children or other person living with the children as a parent, on a regular basis for daily periods of less than 24 hours, whether that care is for daytime or nighttime hours.

(3)  "Day-care center" means an out-of-home place in which day care is provided to 13 or more children on a regular basis.

(4)  "Day-care facility" means a person, association, or place, incorporated or unincorporated, that provides day care on a regular basis or a place licensed or registered to provide day care on an irregular basis for children suffering from illness. It includes a family day-care home, a day-care center, a group day-care home, or a facility providing care in a child's home for the purpose of meeting registration requirements for the receipt of payments as provided in 52-2-713. The term does not include:

(a)  a person who limits care to children who are related to the person by blood or marriage or who are under the person's legal guardianship, unless registration or licensure as a day-care facility is required to receive payments as provided in 52-2-713; or

(b)  any group a facility established chiefly for educational purposes that limits its services to children who are 3 years of age or older and that limits the number of hours for each child to 4 hours a day;

(c) a facility used solely by members of a health club while using the health club facilities; or

(d) a facility operated by a church, whose property is exempt from property taxation under 15-6-201, during periods of actual religious worship and church-related functions.

(5)  "Department" means the department of public health and human services provided for in 2-15-2201.

(6)  "Family day-care home" means a private residence in which day care is provided to three to six children on a regular basis.

(7)  "Group day-care home" means a private residence or other structure in which day care is provided to 7 to 12 children on a regular basis.

(8)  "License" means a written document issued by the department that the license holder has complied with this part and the applicable standards and rules for day-care centers.

(9)  "Licensee" means the holder of a license issued by the department in accordance with the provisions of this part.

(10) "Registrant" means the holder of a registration certificate issued by the department in accordance with the provisions of this part.

(11) "Registration" means the process whereby the department maintains a record of all family day-care homes and group day-care homes, prescribes standards, promulgates rules, and requires the operator of a family day-care home or a group day-care home to certify compliance with the prescribed standards and promulgated rules.

(12) "Registration certificate" means a written instrument issued by the department to publicly document that the certificate holder has, in writing, certified to the department compliance with this part and the applicable standards for family day-care homes and group day-care homes.

(13) "Regular basis" means providing day care to children of separate families for any daily periods of less than 24 hours for 4 or more days in a week and within 3 or more consecutive weeks.

(14) (a) "Related by blood or marriage" means the status of a child who is the son, daughter, brother, sister, first cousin, nephew, niece, or grandchild of a person providing child care.

(b)  The term includes the status of a child described in subsection (14)(a) in a step or adoptive relationship."

Section 3.  Section 52-2-713, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-713.   Payments for eligible children. The department shall pay a daily rate established by the department and appropriated by the legislature to a day-care facility licensed or, registered, or certified by the department for each child receiving day-care service and certified eligible by the department to receive day-care services."

Section 4.  Section 52-2-721, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-721.   License required -- registration required -- term of license or registration certificate -- no fee charged -- exception. (1) No A person, group of persons, or corporation shall may not:

(a)  establish or maintain a day-care center for children unless licensed to do so by the department;

(b)  operate a family day-care home or group day-care home without first procuring a family day-care or group day-care registration certificate from the department.

(2)  The license and registration certificate shall must set forth the ages and numbers of children for whom day care may be provided.

(3)  The applicant's own children must be included in the manner provided for in department regulations in the total number of children to be cared for under the license or registration certificate.

(4)  Licenses or registration certificates shall may be issued for periods not to exceed 1 year. The department may not charge a fee to issue a license or registration certificate except as required in 52-2-735."

Section 5.  Section 52-2-735, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-735.   Health protection -- certification required. (1) The department shall adopt rules for the protection of children in day-care centers from the health hazards of inadequate food preparation, poor nutrition, and communicable diseases. Rules adopted by the department must include rules requiring children under 5 years of age to be immunized against Haemophilus influenza type "b" before being admitted for care in the facility unless an exemption has been claimed as provided in 20-5-405.

(2)  Local public health authorities shall arrange to provide training to day-care center providers and employees regarding health hazards. Local public health authorities may arrange to provide training to other types of day-care providers and employees regarding health hazards. Upon successful completion of the training, the local public health authorities shall issue certificates to the providers and employees.

(3)  In lieu of training, local public health authorities may elect to inspect facilities and issue certificates of approval to child-care center providers.

(4)  Each applicant for a license to operate a day-care center shall submit to the department a certificate issued pursuant to subsection (2) or (3) before the department will issue a license.

(5)  The local public health authority may charge the applicant a reasonable fee, not to exceed $25 $50, for any inspection necessary to issue a certificate of approval, or a fee not to exceed the documented cost for training it provides under this section."

Section 6.  Section 52-2-741, MCA, is amended to read:

"52-2-741.   Penalty -- remedies. (1) A person, group of persons, or corporation who that establishes or maintains a day-care facility or assists in conducting or maintaining a day-care facility without first obtaining a license or registration certificate from the department, as provided for in this part, is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

(2)  (a) If the department is advised or has reason to believe that a person, group of persons, or corporation is operating a day-care facility without a license or registration certificate, it shall make an investigation to ascertain the facts. If the department finds that the day-care facility is being or has been operated without a license or registration certificate, it may report the results of its investigation to the attorney general or the county attorney of the county where the day-care facility is being operated for prosecution and request that an injunction be issued against the facility until a license or certificate is issued.

(b)  The department may institute any action necessary to enforce compliance with this part or any order or rule of the department under this part or to obtain a judicial interpretation of any of the foregoing.

(c)  The department may, by its own attorney or counsel, any county attorney or city attorney, or the attorney general, initiate an action in the district court, justice's court, municipal court, or city court of the appropriate county, city, or town and be represented by such the representative on appeal to the supreme court of Montana."

NEW SECTION. Section 7.  Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.